I hope you don’t find this poem excessive, in the way of making prayer into a monumental event or an effort of the mind that is beyond us common folk. Prayer is a thing we do need to practice if we are to learn it. We can’t grasp it, but we can do it, and understand somehow, something deeper than our minds. These lines challenge me to at least thank God for the simplest experience of prayer, maybe what Herbert calls “heaven in ordinary,” even if I am incapable myself of writing a line about this “kind of tune.” Read it slowly.
Prayer the church’s banquet, angel’s age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth
Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tow’r,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices; something understood.